Following up on our Facebook posts regarding Emma Kidd and her fantastical monsters, beasts and sea creatures, meet "l'artiste" herself in this short video:
Emma Kidd's "hinged beasts" are so whimsical and nimble you can imagine them dancing on stage in a fantastical ballet at the court of Louis XIV who, in his youth, was an avid dancer and performed in ballets, and patronised the creation of classical ballet as it is known today. There's a famous drawing by Henri Gissey which portrays Louis XIV as Apollo the Sun King as he appeared in Le ballet de la nuit, performed in 1653. One day we will ask Emma - if she agrees - to make us a "hinged beast" in the guise of Louis' Apollo the Sun King!!!
For those interested in learning about the truly fascinating history of ballet, there's a wonderful book, recently published and now available in paperback, by Jennifer Homans, called Apollo's Angels. Here's the cover of the hardback edition:
In Apollo's Angels, this is how Jennifer Homans recounts Le ballet de la nuit:
"As a child Louis had been subjected to the gross indignity of being forced to flee Paris during the violent disturbances of the Fronde (1648 - 1653), in which princes and the ruling elite aggressively, and with considerable military presence, challenged the power of the increasingly absolutist French state. (…) When the Fronde died down and Mazarin returned to Paris in the early months of 1653, the first minister ordered a thirteen-hour-long ballet, with Louis (who was by then fifteen) in the starring role. It was a political and theatrical tour de force. Le Ballet de la Nuit - performed through the night - depicted disruption, nightmares, and darkness, but in the early hours of the morning, Louis appeared as the Sun. Dressed in gold, rubies, and pearls, with bright glittering rays of diamonds shooting from his head, wrists, elbows, and knees, and with rich ostrich plumes (a coveted symbol of nobility) piled high on his head, Louis vanquished the night."
Here's a scene from the film Le Roi danse (The King is Dancing), by Gérard Corbiau, recreating the final scene of Le ballet de nuit and Louis' spectacular stage entrance (minus the ostrich plumes!):
To learn more about Apollo's Angels, we've posted below a podcast interview with Jennifer Homans, by the New York Times Book Review, and a lecture held by Jennifer Homans at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2011:
One of the things you should absolutely do, if you happen to be visiting Paris during the ballet season, is to attend a ballet at the Palais Garnier, also referred to as the Opéra Garnier. In fact, the Palais Garnier is so lavish, and opulent, and sumptuous, and ornate, and so comes alive during a performance, that even if you are, or your partner is, the "blokiest of blokes", you, or/and he, will cherish every moment. It truly is an amazing experience.
To view what is on offer this season and to book, visit the excellent Opéra national de Paris site - ballet performances by the Opéra national de Paris are staged at both the Palais Garnier and, to a lesser extent, at the Opéra Bastille and the site clearly indicates which opera house is staging which ballet.
The history of the Palais Garnier is absolutely fascinating so we've included a link, below, to an excellent documentary - directed by Stan Neumann, produced by the Arte Channel, and part of the Architectures series - which examines the history of the building's creation:
One of the great pleasures of attending a performance at the Palais Garnier, apart from the beauty of the performance and Garnier's opulent surroundings, is that of being able to admire the wonderful ceiling painted by Marc Chagall, in 1964. So, pour finer, below, you'll find a link to an excellent documentary on Marc Chagall, first screened in 1985 by the South Bank Show, briefly introduced by the amazing Melvyn Bragg - the ceiling is explored at approx. 24':
It's been some time coming but the French Centre now has a Blog. Le voilà!